I originally put this on my journal/blog, but thought that I would share it here as it seems most appropriate.
When I was in high school, I attended a Vineyard-like youth group. As part of the youth group, we had a youth band that performed for our youth group. It was led by our youth pastor who was cool, had a great voice and could really play a guitar (or so I thought at the time). I had joined the band along with another girl. Now, up till this time I had had lots of vocal training. I knew how to breathe, how to stand, I could hit the right notes, and I sang Soprano. Now, me and this other girl had a fine time singing along with the youth leader. He never corrected us or told us what to do. We just sang what he sang. Since he never gave us direction, I thought we were doing a pretty good job.
Then in my senior year, two twin girls started attending the youth group and quickly joined the band. Next thing we know, me and the other girl were asked to sing only every other week. "OK," I thought, "We can make room. I am not going to hog the stage."
Then the youth leader decided to record a CD of some songs he wrote and the backup vocals he used were of the twin girls. I was shocked. Here I had put in lots of time and thought I was doing OK. Now, I am being shoved aside. That hurt.
I thought, "What is wrong with me? Is my voice not that good?"
What made matters worse is that I had known these girls through choir for the past 4 years. They were the choir teacher's star pupils. And me? Well, the choir teacher hated me. She said I was flat. (Which I wasn't.) She had a personal vendetta against me for another reason that I am not going to put on here.
I had been a part of choir for the last 3 years (I gave up trying by my senior year). I was subjected to ridicule and hatred. I thought I had found a safe place to sing with the youth group. And then the twins came in and steal all the glory. (I know, wrong reason for doing it...)
Combining my choir teacher's hatred with the rejection I felt by my youth pastor, I stopped singing. I sang only a little in college. I didn't join the college choir. I only sang because someone asked me too. I didn't sing around other people either. I met and married my husband. I hardly ever sang around him. I didn't sing for my kids. Only softly and when I knew I was alone. When I knew I was alone or the music was loud enough, I would open up my heart and sing to God. But only if I thought no one could hear me. This went on for 10 years.
Then when I was 28 or so, someone standing in front of me at church, heard me. He asked me to join the worship band. I did. But still, I was so very hesitant. I didn't sing like I did when I was alone. I used all of those lessons I had learned. I blended in, just like I did in choir.
About a year later we started going to a Vineyard church. Through my husband's prodding. I joined a worship band. The leader of the band was nice and fatherly. He assured me and helped me to feel safe in singing. After a couple of practices, I was so torn. I was singing the way I had been taught, but not the way I felt in my heart. I cried out to God. If I sang from my heart then I would be rejected. I just knew it. I didn't think that I could take the rejection. It hurts so much.
As I cried out to God, He said, "Who gave you this voice?"
I responded, "You did."
"Are you not my servant?", He gently asked.
"Yes, Lord, You know I am."
"Then you need to serve Me in using your voice. It is my gift to you and you are to share it with others. It is a sin for you not to share your voice with others."
I broke down and wept and repented for being so afraid of rejection that I wouldn't/couldn't sing from my heart.
The next practice. I sang from my heart. I think that my heart might have pounded out of my chest, but I did it.
So as I started on this new worship team, I walked out in faith. I sang from my heart. I decided not to live in fear of people and what they might say about my voice. Since then I have done this.
And God has blessed me abundantly because of this. I have since been asked to be either lead singer or lead female singer of two bands. I have lead vocal training for up and coming worship leaders. I have given private voice lessons. I joined a band and sang on a regular basis with my little band. I have lead worship numerous times for several churches and occasions.
But more special than those things... I have had countless people say how my singing has blessed them. I have been told that I have the voice of an angel. I have had people tell me how blessed they are because of my singing. I have had people say that my singing helps them to enter into worship. (Wow! Isn't that what it is all about?) I have had people thank me for sharing my gift.
One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn is to say thank you to the compliments. I want to brush it off, ignore it, say whatever. Why is it so hard just to say thank you?
Thank you, God, for this gift. It is so special and sweet to me. When I sing Your praise, my heart opens up and I can feel Your love for me. Thank you so much for giving me the gift of singing.